Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the closest (110 miles) national park to my home, but until I was doing research on national parks to visit on an upcoming trip, I didn't know it existed. Though a short distance from the urban environments of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The winding Cuyahoga -- the "crooked river" as named by American Indians -- gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. The park is a refuge for flora and fauna and provides recreation and solitude for visitors. The Cuyahoga River is the central natural feature of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Twenty-two of its one hundred miles run the length of the park from south to north. The river is fed by more than 190 miles of perennial (permanent) and ephemeral (temporary) streams. Known internationally as the "river that burned," the Cuyahoga River is on the rebound. Where at one time no living thing could survive, now there are spawning fish and rare insect species. Today the river looks like a river should; it no longer flows in colors of the rainbow. Instead, the river flows lazily past forests, fields, and towns, occasionally erupting in white ripples where rocks and pebbles interrupt its flow. The Cuyahoga is not completely healed, however. Even today, combined sewer overflows, runoff from fields and parking lots, and sediments continue to impair the river's water quality. Throughout Northeast Ohio people are looking out for the river, as government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and volunteers work together to return the Cuyahoga to an acceptable state. Someday, visitors to the park will once again be able to recreate safely on the river.
Source: National Park Service
The valley is more like a ravine in many places with steep cliffs down to the floor
Layered Rock Formations
The rock layers of 65-foot Brandywine Falls can be read like a book. Each chapter covers millions of years, as ancient seas left behind sediments that were compressed by added layers. The rocks here at the base of the falls were formed 300-400 million years ago.
Bounding many of the rivers and streams are steep valley walls topped by deciduous forests and open meadows. Several waterfalls are tucked away in the midst of the forests, hidden from view until you round a bend. Brandywine Falls is the largest, with water rushing over the 65-foot falls to meet the boulders below.
Brandywine Creek and this "bridal veil" cascade began about 10,000 years ago, after the last Ice Age. The falls have not exposed the harder, yellow-brown Berea sandstone which rests atop the softer Bedford shale. Since sandstone is more resistant to erosion, the shale below is frequently undercut. As these layers wear away, the story of the earth continues to be revealed.
What begins as a small stream results in a magnificent cascade. Click the Start button to view the videos of Brandywine Falls.
A bustling village once surrounded Brandywine Falls. Taking advantage of the waterpower, George Wallace built a sawmill here in 1814. Over the next decade, the Village of Brandywine added a whiskey distillery, gristmill, wollen mill, and a dozen houses. In 1825, Wallace transferred his property to his sons, who then formed the Wallace Brothers Company. Business thrived for 30 years.
Eventually, Brandywine's prosperity dried up. The Ohio & Erie Canal, and later the railroads, shipped goods to the cities of Akron and Cleveland, leaving towns like Brandywine behind. Only a few hidden foundations remain of the village of Brandywine. br>The ruins below are of the Champion Electric Company, built in 1920 by Willis Hale near the old gristmill. Hale produced restaurant appliances until 1937, when his factory was destroyed by lightning. The cinder blocks ruins are from the last industry in Brandywine Village.